An Old Friend
Sanctuary I have always found among trees and in many ways they have saved me.
In May, I visited an old friend in Auckland, New Zealand, who helped me during the darkest time of my life.
The Auckland Domain is the oldest park in Auckland and it sits on top of an ancient volcano crater. Auckland Hospital is close to the park, and in my teens I stayed at the psychiatric ward for young people for about a month's time. I was severely depressed, suicidal and trapped inside a mind of screaming voices. Locked behind bars, we were hardly ever allowed to go outside, despite the park being so close by. Thankfully, my mum sometimes received permission to take me to the park, where I loved being around the old trees and especially the one in this photo, a Moreton Bay Fig tree.
Seeing the tree again felt surreal. I hadn’t been back there for over 10 years. Sitting on the trees giant roots, I felt connected to my own roots. The girl who once sat on those roots was struggling to survive, but now she has grown up and blossomed into a strong young woman. I am proud of who I am and of how far I have come.
Like the old tree, my roots go deep and my branches grow high. If I had not taken that journey down into my own inner hell, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering on anyone, but I understand that it was a part of my journey, and sometimes the worst storms come with the greatest gifts.
Recovering from a severe depression is both a death and rebirth at the same time. From the ashes of my old life, a new life was born, and stepping forward onto my new path, I discovered a longing to truly live my life with all my heart.
Many suffer from mental illness and many suffer in silence. A broken mind isn’t as easy to fix as a broken leg, and people can be very judging and misunderstanding when it comes to mental illness. My own journey of healing was a long one, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. I had a lot of help from family, friends and angels in disguise, and I also had to discover my own source of medicine.
If you are depressed or suicidal, or if you know someone who is suffering, please know that there is always help. There is a way. Don’t give up. Find that spark of light wherever you can and warm your heart like you might blow life into a fire – fill it with what you love. The simplest things, like a walk in the park or spending time with an animal, make the biggest difference. Go outside and breathe in the beauty of nature. Mother Nature is always there to hold you close and sing you home.
Healing will take time. It is a journey that will take everything you have, but believe me, you are stronger than you realise and you will get through.
Even if you feel as though you are broken and like nothing will fix you – remember, deep inside you are whole, and you are connected to the same source of life as all of nature, and like a tree you will find a way to grow, to heal and to transform the old into something new.
Like a tree, the journey will give you roots that go deep into the earth, and branches that stretch high into the sky.
Thank you, my old friend, for giving me the strength to go on.